We’re in the midst of learning how to create a website. Picture someone with more experience using a shovel than software, with the great outdoors calling, wood that needs splitting, fencing built, holes dug,….anything other than this, and you have a picture of the process. Add some sweat and frustration, and the inclination to use the former (shovel) on the latter (software) and you have added color to the picture. So please excuse the mess….We hope you find the phone number or come by and see us!

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Materials Price Increases

It almost seems as if a person can’t win. The virus has caused havoc and now again, we have multiple notices from our vendors and subs letting us know prices are increasing 10-20%. The reasons range from extreme weather and commodity prices, to labor costs. We know these factors are playing in because we experience them too. This is the 2nd big bump in pricing in just about a year. Similarly fuel prices have increased and never did decline as much as expected for so much surplus to be had elsewhere.

I mention this simply to communicate some of the hurdles Orcas Excavators faces. We are always looking for solutions and have done a lot of purchasing recently to stave off the inevitable. We continue to look for quality pipe, fittings, and materials at the best price possible. We have purchased a truck that will travel on the ferry for the price of a passenger vehicle yet haul more weight and volume than a standard pickup. And, of course we continue to buy in volume to reduce prices.

We share the results of our efforts with you and will continue to look for other strategies to mitigate the challenges and expenses of construction in the San Juan Islands.

Erosion Control

Erosion control is essential for most or our projects during the rainy season and must be done year around to comply with regulations. It is a great disappointment to us that our efforts to protect the environment actually might be harming it in other ways.

At Orcas Excavators, we use rolls and rolls of plastic sheeting. “Straw” blankets encase straw in plastic netting. Our erosion control barriers are made from woven plastic, and the straw waddle that we purchase is straw encased….you guessed it…in plastic. A lot of this plastic ends up in the environment or for only a single use before it ends up in the dumpster.

We like to offer other solutions such as “tub grind” which is wood debris ground up in a grinder into a course bark product, or local hay which can be used in some situations. We have found that unless the hay is applied when it’s raining, the wind can blow it off the area we’re attempting to protect.

We are always looking for a better way to approach storm water challenges. We also would love to make our single use plastic debris into at least a 2 use product. With that in mind, please feel free to contact us if you’d like any used 6 mil plastic sheeting. We currently have a pile and I’d love to see it reused.

Septic System Care

As more people move from urban to rural communities, they are often also moving from sewer systems to septic systems. From our point of view as an on site sewage system installer, there is a need for education for those unused to thinking about how waste is treated.

A septic system relies on bacteria to digest solid waste not unlike our own digestive systems. Care must be taken when disposing of materials in the sink or toilet. Excessive use of bleach and cleaning chemicals can kill the bacteria in your septic system causing it to fail. Similarly, oils and fats of any sort have a tendency to bind things up and slow or stop digestion. High use of papers…toilet paper, tissue, and other hygiene items or non-biodegradable materials also slow or stop the digestion process. Only toilet paper approved for septic systems should be used. Tissue paper and other items should not be put into the system.

Paints, solvents, and other chemicals should never reach the septic system. In addition, we now have the effects of additional “Covid Cleaning” and the increased use of strong cleaning agents, particularly in our vacation rentals and where there is high occupancy turn-over. We think it’s a good idea to educate painting contractors, cleaning and maintenance staff, as well as the guests on the what should and what should not go down the drain.

Septic systems on the islands can be extremely expensive to install due to imperfect soils, lack of soil, space considerations, and proximity to critical areas. It makes sense to take good care of your septic system. If you have any questions, we are happy to talk to you-Orcas Excavators (360) 376-2319.


Maintenance is important in protecting your investment whether it be your new road, the gutters and downspouts on your home, or your septic system. Now that the leaves are almost down, it’s time to clean your roads, ditches, culverts, gutters, downspouts, and curtain drains so that the winter runoff stays where it’s designed to go.

Annual checks and maintenance can add years to the life of to your investment and help you avoid expensive repairs. If you need assistance, please give us a call and we may have time or can give you a referral.

Orcas Excavators (360) 376-2319